Naser Koshan


The highs and lows of President Karzai’s decade tenure in office


Ruling a controversial state with an extreme heterogeneous social structure in itself is the most undesirable job one would aspire. In a country with a devastating history of civil conflicts and dictatorship a fragile and ill-equipped democracy has to face a great number of social, cultural and sometimes political obstacles before it settles down.

Considering the nature of politics in Afghanistan, the president is to make tough choices and so often not in the best interest of the general public. On the one hand, the afghan warlords still enjoy a huge support from their ethnic captives and could easily abrupt any process threatening their power and financial interests, while on the other hand, the ordinary Afghan who wished for the implications of the transitional justice in the country had to be victimized so that another civil war is prevented and the infamous warlords are kept tame and supportive of the already trembling political system.

President Karzai initially entering the scene as a neutral Jihadi figure with the main task of bridging the gap between the western democracy and its radical Islamic opponents somehow did manage to maintain a thin line in keeping both sides happy and content. But occasionally he failed to gradually get rid of his old ties with the dark forces and nourish the aspirations of the Afghan people calling for democracy, peace and stable security across the country. From the very beginning he lacked the determination and charisma to emerge as a pragmatic and prudent leader ruling with iron fest, tough on criminals soft on the vulnerable. He has been by far the most incompetent president this war torn country has ever experienced. Historically, with the influx of billions of dollars in reconstruction aid, this administration should have succeeded in forming well-disciplined armed forces, dynamic economic institutions and last but least an enhanced civil society keen to modernization and opposed to foreign oriented radical Islamic ideology.

No doubt, a post Taliban Afghanistan was indeed a big mess and to fix this chaos a reformist was needed to reintegrate the society in a broad based national cause with the national security and economic growth as the top priorities. To some extent he did try to surround himself with a number of handy strategists and effective planners at the very beginning of his tenure, but it was hard for him to maintain this ratio in expense of losing his support among the former mujahidin leaders who were already armed to neck and thirsty of partnership in the state power. Picturing national unity in the presence of these entities in power and giving them the room for exploitation and sabotage severely damaged his reputation and has confused the people on his ideological orientation. A man whose own father and brother were slaughtered by the Taliban is calling them his own and urges them to lay down weapons was only justifiable if the opposing side had a listening tendency and denounced violence as part of a positive response to these one sided plea- bargains.

In fact, writing a new constitution for the country was a big high for him and the Afghan people. However, every now and then he is accused of violating the same constitution painted under his leadership. A flimsy freedom of speech struggling with threats and censorship nevertheless is another high for the president and his government. Had president remained in the right course he would have been remembered as the successor of Mahathir Mohammad in Asia. In fact, never Afghanistan in its recent history enjoyed a unanimous support of the international community with a pledge of billions of dollars in reconstruction aid, unfortunately, as soon as they noticed the rampage of state corruption in this administration they not only stepped back but they are also reluctant to provide further cash to his corrupt leadership anymore.

Taliban who opposed women’s education and restricted school subjects to religious studies for boys had already left 2/3 of the population illiterate and abandoned access to latest education and technology. The reopening of schools and universities in the country was a big achievement for president Karzai and his team. Millions of Afghan students enrolled in schools and other academic institutions while a fraction like me got the chance to acquire prestigious scholarships to study at foreign universities, though a pale and outdated educational system which is no way comparable to the standards of our neighboring and foreign schools still remains unreformed and seriously addressed.

However, Afghanistan yet again with the off-tracked policies of the prevailing leadership became a battle ground for regional rivalries post the Taliban.  The insurgents who were defeated and disappeared from the scene in the early 2000s managed to regroup in Pakistan and re launch full swing terrorist attacks on allied forces and Afghan citizens. The stakeholders picked to do the job by the president were utterly based on personal reconnaissance and former factional ties. He made a huge mistake of empowering the very same criminals whom the people hated to see. Having a delusional personality he is happy to be remembered as an honest leader whose subordinates including his own clan and family members gained enormous financial gains under his leadership. He sworn in to form an accountable, transparent and functional bureaucracy serving the people, but unfortunately due to his poor leadership Afghanistan recently topped the list as the most corrupt state in the entire world, (Transparency International).

Now the afghan constitution limiting the presidential office for two consecutive terms, there is a little chance for him and fellow team members to repair their damaged reputation and leave a well admired legacy behind.

Author: Naser “Koshan”

Washington, U.S.

February 2013